Obituary: Ron DePascale / Music educator for more than 20 years in Montour schools

Oct. 5, 1954 - June 25, 2014

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If Ron DePas­cale of Ken­nedy had been asked to de­scribe him­self in one word, it prob­a­bly would have been “mae­stro.”

He was, lit­er­ally, a mae­stro — he di­rected mid­dle school band stu­dents — but Mr. DePas­cale had an ex­tra lik­ing for the word. His com­puter pass­words usu­ally in­cluded some vari­a­tion of it, said his wife, Gigi Som­mers DePas­cale. It was in­dic­a­tive of his life­long love for teach­ing mu­sic, sparked by the toy trum­pet his par­ents gave him when he was a child.

Mr. DePas­cale, a band di­rec­tor and long­time mu­sic teacher at David E. Wil­liams Mid­dle School in Kennedy, died Wed­nes­day from com­pli­ca­tions of fol­lic­u­lar lym­phoma. He was 59.

Mr. DePas­cale’s more-than-20-year ca­reer at Mon­tour School Dis­trict fol­lowed many years of com­mit­ment to mu­sic ed­u­ca­tion. He stud­ied the field at Duquesne Univer­sity, where he earned bach­e­lor’s and mas­ter’‍s de­grees. After col­lege, he went on to teach band and mu­sic at Sto-Rox High School in Stowe, where he met his wife, also once a teacher there. He con­tin­ued on in his ca­reer at Mon­tour schools, most re­cently at David E. Wil­liams.

To Mr. DePas­cale, his wife said, teach­ing was the “best oc­cu­pa­tion” be­cause he could see the dif­fer­ence he was mak­ing for the chil­dren he taught. When stu­dents told him they had prac­ticed their in­stru­ments at home, “he was so thrilled,” Mrs. DePas­cale said.

“He loved it, and the kids loved him,” she said.

But Mr. DePas­cale, who played trum­pet from a young age but learned to teach a num­ber of other in­stru­ments to his stu­dents, had a pas­sion for mu­sic that reached out­side the tra­di­tional pub­lic school class­room. Years ago, Mrs. DePas­cale said, her hus­band ex­pressed in­ter­est in teach­ing adults, and he be­gan work­ing at Al­le­gheny In­ter­me­di­ate Unit, part of the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, where he taught courses on top­ics rang­ing from key­board­ing to pop mu­sic.

He also was di­rec­tor of the Ohio Val­ley Com­mu­nity Band, a vol­un­teer po­si­tion, and was pre­vi­ously an of­fi­cer with the Penn­syl­va­nia Mu­sic Ed­u­ca­tors As­so­ci­a­tion and served on the ed­u­ca­tors’ com­mit­tee of the Pitts­burgh Sym­phony Orches­tra.

His col­leagues at David E. Wil­liams said the school will miss Mr. DePas­cale’‍s com­mit­ment to mu­sic and to stu­dents.

Wil­liam Grif­fith of Squir­rel Hill, a math teacher at David E. Wil­liams, said Mr. DePas­cale “made mu­sic ed­u­ca­tion fun,” ex­pos­ing his stu­dents to a va­ri­ety of mu­sic and teach­ing them about its his­tory. He of­ten would stay af­ter school to work with band stu­dents, said the school’s prin­ci­pal, Dom­inic Salpeck.

“Ron was the kind of guy who re­ally put the in­ter­est of the stu­dents first,” Mr. Salpeck said. “He would go out of his way to make his stu­dents bet­ter mu­si­cians.”

In ad­di­tion to his wife, Mr. DePas­cale is sur­vived by his brother, Vince DePas­cale of Ken­nedy. A ser­vice is planned for Satur­day at 9:30 a.m. at St. John of God Par­ish, St. Mary’‍s Church, 1011 Church Ave. in McKees Rocks.

Made­line R. Con­way: mc­on­way@post-ga­

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